Stephen Collins: Higgins has put the Government in an invidious position

Principle of consent forgotten in furore over President's refusal to attend Armagh service

Michael D Higgins:  the immediate  question for the Government is how it should respond to the President’s decision. Photograph: Maxwells/PA Wire

Michael D Higgins: the immediate question for the Government is how it should respond to the President’s decision. Photograph: Maxwells/PA Wire

The President’s refusal to attend the Northern Ireland centenary service organised by the main churches, and the public reaction it has generated, threatens to undermine the carefully calibrated approach of successive governments towards the future of this island.

All of the fine talk about respecting the British identity of the unionist population in a future united Ireland appeared to go out the window in the furore which followed the President’s demarche. It is as if the Belfast Agreement, and the principle of consent around which it was framed, never happened.

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